Memories and Reflections
Edited by Scott G. Kenney
The Sojourn in Babylon, 1908-11
[p.35] From the land of the Saints to the land from which they were driven, we followed the road over which our father drove an ox team in 1864. As Alma and I sat counting the rails passing, we noted the contrast of the clinking monotony of the present with the cracking of the whip of our father’s trip. But now Mormons and Gentiles understood each other better. Present generations were able to live in peace and even learn from each other.
Our parents had told us of Independence, Missouri, and of Jackson County, the “center stake of Zion.” We had been told that “our people will someday return and repossess this beautiful land of promise.” One of my uncles, William G. Danielsen, and his family had gone there for that purpose, and we were going to visit him. His was a large and happy family. We had a jolly reunion.
Uncle Bill was an inventive genius. As a blacksmith in Richmond and Logan, he had invented a sulky plow and other farm implements and had acquired a reputation as a skillful manufacturer. A man of faith and great imagination, Uncle Bill had pictured a future beyond his reach. He dreamed about being called to Independence to construct a blow [p.36] factory and to pioneer the return of the Saints. He did not have the necessary capital to undertake such a project, but being sure of his ability and the divinity of this mission, he convinced President Joseph F. Smith of the desirability of such a project and received money to finance it. The factory was built and production was on the way. But the enterprise did not pay off, and the church withdrew its support. The corporation failed. Poor management was the report.
The family divided. Half remained Mormons, half joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We visited Joseph Smith III, president of that church. He was then quiet and old, friendly, but not particularly impressive. But we had the satisfaction of seeing “the son of the prophet.”
The entrance of these two country fellows into the University of Chicago was not unlike their entrance into the Brigham Young College. Lugging heavy suitcases from streetcar to streetcar to save a dollar was not unlike conveying a year’s provisions from Preston to avoid the costs of a boarding house. Chicago, no less than Logan, was unimpressed. But we had long since learned that being poor was not something to be ashamed of, nor was it something we desired to display. It was simply a condition of our lives. Our University of Chicago professors were less personal than the BYC faculty, but they were understanding and kind. They appeared to be interested mainly in whether we could put forth the necessary effort. They did not inquire about our religion or our athletic ability.
Dr. Small, professor of sociology and dean of the graduate school, was the first man with whom I had any important contact.1
[p.37] He was a dignified gentleman, short, erect, with a well-trimmed beard. His voice was deep and gentle. After introducing myself he replied, “I know just the man you want to see.” He phoned Dr. James H. Tufts,2 head of the philosophy department, and presented me to him. In a few weeks Professor Tufts secured a scholarship for me.
Tufts was a tall, beardless man with a face that made him appear rather unhappy. He resembled Abraham Lincoln—just not as good looking. He was as kind as the Great Emancipator but less entertaining—he had less humor and few stories. At first I was inclined to feel sorry for him, not only because of his unhappy appearance but also because he himself appeared to be sorry about it. My attitude changed as I got to know him, for he, like Socrates, was without a pleasing exterior but his soul was handsome and lovable. His voice was loud and clear, his language pleasing, with a Boston accent. His lectures were interesting and effective. Students from other schools and departments frequently registered for his classes as visitors. He had just published Ethics with John Dewey. Although a great scholar in the history of philosophy, his major interest was in ethics and social philosophy, and he advised me to develop a broad foundation in human relations. On his advice I registered for courses with Drs. Mead, Ames, and Moore in philosophy; Drs. Laughlin, Hoxie, and Alvin Johnson in economics; and Drs. Small, Thomas, and Park in sociology.
But Professor Tufts was my major teacher and advisor. He directed my efforts toward the philosophy of value, moral and economic, and proposed as the title of my thesis, “The Psychological and Ethical Aspects [p.38] of Mormon Group Life.” I completed nearly every course he offered. It would be impossible to overestimate what this man did for me educationally and professionally. He appeared to see possibilities in men when others passed by with indifference.
The university is located between two of Chicago’s largest and most beautiful parks. I was impressed by the size and grandeur of the campus. The great grey stone buildings with red roofs seemed to have been built to stand through the ages. The walls were thick with heavy doors and windows. Walking through Jackson Park one would soon reach Lake Michigan. Some people enjoy the great waves and the aroma of the sea. The westerner may feel more at home walking west through Washington Park, where one gets a whiff of the Chicago stockyard.
Chicago seemed to have everything—from the university, with its beauty, culture, and inspiration, to the dirtiest, slummiest, most wicked city in the world. I was attracted to Lincoln Park, the World’s Fair buildings, the museum, and the Art Institute. I was thrilled by the great masterpieces at the institute and developed a taste for art, though it may not have reached any degree of refinement. Marshall Field was the department store everyone was talking about. One could buy most anything there. Just before returning to Utah, I bought a watch for $7.50. It would not do to present myself to be married without a watch. It is my only timepiece and it will probably run forever. I also bought two suits—a blue suit for everyday and a black one for the wedding.
My first course in philosophy, taught by Professor Tufts, was on Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Why I should spend so much time studying the ideas of a man who had been dead more than a hundred years was hard for me to justify at first, but he soon became a great intellectual challenge. I had always regarded knowledge as something delivered through the senses. Since the senses were not always reliable, reason served as a check. Kant taught that sensory perception was blind [p.39] without reason and reason was empty without sensory experience. Knowledge was not delivered ready-made. The mind has a creative function in which sensory perception and an inner faculty worked together in the knowing process.
By the time I had completed the Critique of Pure Reason, I was convinced of Kant’s greatness and ready to study Critique of Practical Reason, Kant’s search for ultimate principles and a method to universalize moral judgment. His major interest was to make moral thinking as reliable as scientific thinking. “Good will” was his law of righteousness, the great unifying principle to govern human behavior anywhere and at all times. Man cannot always determine the consequences of his conduct, but he can always control the will. I was profoundly impressed, for this philosophy supported my religious beliefs in free agency and the dignity of the soul. Professor Tufts, while recognizing the importance of these principles, insisted that consequences are also essential, that motives (including Kant’s good will) are not to be detached from their effects.
I also completed a course in political philosophy under Professor Tufts and a course in theories of economic value, which enabled me to be more objective and critical in my study of Kant and to think through value problems in economics. A little later I also completed another course under Professor Tufts on theories of moral value.3
[p.40] As I neared the close of my first year at Chicago, I began to examine my religious heritage. I had learned something about the religious thinking of the past and present. My teachers were not only men of intellectual capacity but men of character who were as anxious as I, my parents, and the leaders of my church to find out what is true, worthy, and noble. My religious background was receiving less and less intellectual support. The foreground was philosophical, and it increasingly occupied more of my attention. I had intended to teach in the church’s institutions of higher education after completing my graduate training. Practically all my relatives and friends were Latter-day Saints and living in Utah. The girl I was to marry was LDS, as were all her relatives. I wanted to make my home in Utah, and it was her people I expected to serve. The problem was important, and I felt it keenly.
Fortunately I was not alone. There was no problem that I did not openly discuss with Alma. His judgment and loving companionship meant much to me during that first year. Next to my wife, he influenced the social and mental adjustments in my early college life more than anyone else. At the end of our first year in Chicago, Alma decided to complete [p.41] his law degree at Berkeley. So we parted company. Since then our association has been intermittent and brief. But in spirit and affection we have never been separated.
In addition to Alma there was a large number of graduate students from Utah at Chicago, although I was the only one majoring in philosophy. Many were in law, others were in medicine or education, a few in the physical and biological sciences. We all attended the popular lectures and were stimulated by the broadminded and creative spirit of the university. Even the Sunday sermons in Mendall Hall stimulated thought and caused much discussion among Utah students. While some of the more critical students attended services at the university, the more orthodox went to church on Polina Street.
On Sunday afternoons small groups met in the married students’ apartments, where we had vigorous and sometimes heated discussions. The conservative wing, dominated by law students and those in the behavioral sciences,4 seemed not to have been greatly affected by evolutionary ideas. The liberals were in the biological sciences, psychology, history, [p.42] philosophy, and literature. Many became teachers, spreading the liberalizing effect of these discussions throughout the entire church.
My second-year roommates were law students Leon Fonnesbeck and David Cook. From them I learned something about the legal profession and the tricks of argumentation. They were smart fellows and enjoyed arguing any and every question, public and private, religious, political, legal, and moral. I enjoyed their discussions but was always skeptical about their conclusions.
In the second and third years my attention focused on economics. But my courses were undergraduate in character. They seemed elementary and unimportant. I slackened my efforts and my grades suffered. In later years, when I began to teach ethics, what I had learned about trade unions, trusts, and combinations, economics, and industrial history became of real value. I am now convinced that if ethics is to be of value it must deal with factual material, and problems of business ethics are among the most challenging of our day.
I admired Dr. Robert Hoxie, my economics teacher, very much. Right from the outset he treated me as his equal and co-worker. He was thoroughly critical of Adam Smith and Karl Marx, yet left the impression that their thinking was of lasting value. In his early thirties, Hoxie had fully grasped the method and spirit of social study prevalent at the University of Chicago. His standard question was, “Why do you think the laboring man behaved that way? Is the laboring man’s philosophy and psychology in any way different from that of the employer?”
My first assignment was to study the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), one of the country’s most radical labor organizations.5 It was the [p.43] first bit of independent research I had ever done and was most stimulating. I visited their headquarters every week. I interviewed Mr. St. John, the executive secretary, read their literature, and attended their Sunday evening meetings—much to the consternation of some of my LDS friends. Dr. Hoxie suggested the application of Veblen’s theory in my analysis of the IWW. Veblen claimed that a man’s thinking is determined in large measure by the kind of job he does—a mechanic will think in terms of physical force; a businessman in terms of ideas and ways and means of convincing people. The manager is therefore more logical than the man in the shop. My observation did not support Veblen’s theory, occasioning a little argument. But he did not want to curb my way of thinking and let me follow my convictions.
These laboring men, to be sure, were not entirely objective and logical. Their major contention was based on superficial observation under the influence of fear and hate, and their program was emotionally rather than logically controlled. But they did some thinking. They preached that there were only two classes: those who do all the work and those who own the property and do no work. The IWW sought to reverse the situation. “All the goods of life belong to the working class. They are the only producers,” said Mr. St. John.
I was also taking Hoxie’s undergraduate course in trade unionism. The students were mostly young, intelligent, conservative, and of the business class. They had little sympathy for laboring people or their way of thinking. Dr. Hoxie decided that these innocent young souls should be exposed to the IWW, and a Sunday evening was agreed upon for a visit to their hide-out. I made the necessary arrangements and directed [p.44] the students to the meeting. St. John delivered a skillful address, and the singing was most appropriate for the occasion: “Hallelujah, I am a bum. Hallelujah, bum again. Hallelujah, give me a hand out to revive me again.”
This hymn and Mr. St. John’s talk created emotions of all degrees and kind. The questions the students asked and the expressions on the faces of those sweet girls were most revealing. Hoxie enjoyed it and so did I. These young people learned something about another world of ideas. They were unconvinced by St. John’s argument, but his answers to their questions compelled them to think seriously about Dr. Hoxie’s question, “Why do intelligent people differ so widely on matters of human justice?”
After obtaining permission to leave school early, and a temple recommend from mission president German E. Ellsworth, I took the Union Pacific back to the land of my dreams to marry the sweetest girl in all the world. It is strange how emotions can prevent all thought of the practical. I was about to assume the responsibility of a family with only enough money to buy a round trip ticket for me and one-way ticket for my wife. I had no job or even a promise of one. My assets consisted of two suits, two suits of underwear, two shorts, two pairs of shoes, two ties, two pairs of stockings, and one hat. But my brother-in-law, Edward Swann, had pledged $40 a month for the next school year, and I had been granted a full tuition scholarship. I was a very, very happy man.
On the 6th of June the train stopped at Farmington,6 but there was no one on the platform to greet me—Clark good sense. That was no place for lovers to meet after two years of separation. True love wants no public demonstration. Only a few steps to the Hyrum Clark home on Clark Street. I knocked at the door and who should fall into my arms? I [p.45] shall only say, I loved with a love that was more than a love in that kingdom by the lake. My girl, just twenty, was beautiful, and never more charming: brown hair, blue eyes, rosy lips, a pink dress and perfect figure. She led me to the living room where I asked her to take down that beautiful head of hair; and she did. My! More hair than girl. Just then Mother Clark entered the room. Edna was embarrassed and I was downright ashamed, but she understood, bless her heart.
The next day we went to Salt Lake City to obtain a marriage license. Why Edna wept I did not understand. But I do now. She loved her father, who had provided her with security. He said sweet things to her that brought tears from a soul ready to burst with emotion. Hyrum D. Clark would not admit partiality toward any of his children, but he recognized the strengths and weaknesses of each. He had high regard for Edna’s judgment, and in return Edna invariably referred to him for practical counsel. He advised me, “Be sure that you always have a good reserve.” By that he meant not only financial reserve but also such matters as not pretending to know more than I do or having more strength than I possess. Do not oversell one’s self.
The ride from Farmington to Salt Lake City was quiet. Edna and I were close, and I pressed her, but not for ideas. There are moments when lovers should remain silent. The tension was relieved only when we arrived at the city and county building, where I was compelled to inquire about the license. It was stupid of me not to have quietly inquired earlier. I did so much want to make my girl think that I knew my way around. I asked one man and then another. Each stood ready to serve, but with a big grin on his face. That I did not enjoy, but Edna just smiled and blushed sweetly.
We found the office and the man who held the authority. He was either very dumb or mercenary, for he seemed not to understand that we just wanted the license and were not asking him to perform the [p.46] ceremony. And why should we have to swear to high heaven just to get the license? But we did swear—I under my breath.
We walked up to the temple and sat on the lawn. Edna chatted and laughed at our experience. I listened, smiled, and then laughed at myself. Is it not strange how quickly two people can change their moods when they are by themselves? They can be at once wise and foolish, happy and sorrowful. Each can change the other’s mood most effectively. When in love they need no third party. These two alone against the world.
The next day, the 8th of June, the train left Farmington at 7 a.m. with Edna Clark and Ephraim Edward Ericksen and all the necessary paraphernalia for temple rituals. I held the orthodox Mormon conviction that marriage was not a temporary union but one that should last forever. I had had moments at the university when I was not quite sure of claims that things “bound on earth” will be bound in heaven, but I did not want to run any risk of losing my sweetheart either in heaven or on earth. If there is any relation on earth of value that should endure, it is that between husband and wife, parent and child—assuming there is a deep and binding love between them. If this love does not carry over, nothing does, and all the so-called higher values are merely temporary.
We arrived at the temple on time and were soon separated. During the endowment ceremony men sit on one side of the room and women on the other. When not looking for my bride, I was thinking of my own worthiness or unworthiness. By the Law of Moses, I was not really a sinner, for I had kept the Ten Commandments from my childhood as I understood them. But when I thought of Jesus and the higher prophets, I was not so sure. My one sin in this connection was too much thinking and too little attention to what I was doing.
At Chicago, during a course on the evolution of morality, I had come to believe that ritual should magnify basic virtues. It is symbolic and should not be treated as a virtue in itself. At least it should not be regarded [p.47] as more important than the virtues. For me, the temple ceremony followed too closely the patterns of the ancient Hebrews and partook too much of the priestly order and philosophy. The emphasis of the eighth-century prophets and Jesus, who placed righteousness first and ritual second, was not made obvious. It was the Law of Moses rather than the Sermon on the Mount. I was not favorably impressed but said nothing to my young wife until she herself indicated some dissatisfaction.
Following the endowment, I found my young bride and we were finally united in the bonds of matrimony by that kind and understanding man, President Anthon H. Lund.
Coming out of the temple I knelt to tie my wife’s shoe. A gentleman standing nearby asked me if I would continue to do that. I smiled, as did Edna, but made no promise. Outside the gate whom should we meet but my Chicago friend Heber J. Sears.7
He looked at my wife and then at me and said, “I want to be the first to congratulate you.” After parting I told Edna, “There is a man that you will like and admire. He is my only rich friend in Chicago. He is a good Latter-day Saint but liberal minded.”
Arriving at the Clark’s home late that afternoon, we found the main floor, upstairs, and lawn swarming with Clarks of all ages, sizes, and complexions. They were of one blood, one faith, one church, all happy to welcome me into the clan. I met all my new brothers and sisters. They exceeded a dozen, and I learned to love them all as my very own. There were also uncles and aunts and their families. Edna later taught me all their names, virtues, and limitations. It was a big assignment.
[p.48] A delicious wedding dinner was served on two long tables placed at right angles extending through the dining and living rooms. The grown-ups sat at the first table and the children at the second. Father Clark presided, Mother Clark and daughters served. The bride looked like an angel from heaven and acted like one who quite enjoyed living on earth. She wore a beautiful white wedding dress, and her long brown hair was done up in what appeared to me to be ten thousand little rings. I had never before, nor have I since, seen a more beautiful girl or one more beautifully arrayed. The bridegroom wore the new black suit bought for the occasion. His hair was well combed, and the three girls who helped him thought he looked pretty good.
Having met Edna’s kinfolk, we visited the Swarms at Preston and Eldena’s family at Daton, where her husband, Alma L. Jensen, was bishop. They had married the first year I was at Chicago. The third day we visited another bishop, Uncle Herman H. Danielsen of the Lewiston second ward, then Uncle Henry H. Danielsen and friends in Logan, concluding our visits at Ogden with Peter and Moroni and their families.
Finally we were off on our honeymoon to Chicago. At Union Station the buildings, the masses of humanity going and coming, the shouting of the “towncrier” telling us of Chicago’s great hotels, and taxi drivers by the hundreds ready to serve were a breath-taking experience for my bride. We took a car to the Cottage Grove street car line then walked a block and a half to our very own little apartment. We were there in less than an hour and “crossed the threshold” where life begins.
“Do you like it, sweetheart?”
“Do I? I love it! Why, it has everything we want, including a piano.”
I did not tell her then how I had secured it and at what price. We lived happily there for ten weeks.8
[p.49] During summer quarter I took a course in economic value from Alvin Johnson, a visiting professor and one of the country’s foremost economists. His course meant no more to me than if I had taken it from a graduate student. He would leave the classroom the moment he finished the lecture, and I would follow immediately. I also took a popular course in modern philosophy from Professor Tufts but did very little reading. I must have had another class or two, but I do not even remember what they were.
What I do remember are the happy hours my girl and I spent in the Chicago parks, at the Art Institute, the old fair grounds east of Jackson Park, the Sundays at the church on Polina Street, and the social life. Chicago was a popular summer school for Utah educators, and we attended many parties, picnics, and baseball games of Mormon students. We spent two or three evenings with Dr. and Mrs. Sears. Mrs. Sears told Edna that she must have “popped the question,” for “Ephraim was too bashful.” I did not deny it. On one occasion the university sponsored an excursion to Milwaukee and a tour of Chicago on the same day. I asked my wife, “Which would you prefer, this trip to Milwaukee or a tour of Chicago?”
“Whatever you say.”
“Edna, don’t put it that way. You and I must make these decisions together as well as share the consequences.”
For a moment she was dumfounded. But she did there and then change from the role of an obedient wife to a companion of rank equal. We took our first steamboat ride, to Milwaukee, met the mayor, and toured the brewery that made Milwaukee famous—or infamous, as we [p.50] thought. We did not drink any beer. The only place I ever drank beer was at the Sears home.
By the close of summer quarter, I had to select a subject for the doctor’s thesis. Religious philosophy had dominated my thinking, and above all I wanted to prove Mormonism true. Shortly before leaving home, I had heard or read a sermon by B. H. Roberts challenging the youth of Zion to answer criticisms against our religion advanced by the great scholars of the day. He called particular attention to the philosopher and psychologist I. Woodridge Riley who had written The Founder of Mormonism: A Psychological Study of Joseph Smith, Jr. “I shall accept the challenge,” I had said to myself.
Now, however, I was majoring in economics and had concluded that Mormonism was not the field for my dissertation. It was Dr. Hoxie who raised the question of a Utah thesis. “What about some problem in Mormon economy?” “Yes,” I said, “I am much interested in something of that sort.” After a few moments he suggested Mormon cooperative enterprises, in which, said he, “your people have made quite a name for themselves.” Here was an opportunity to prove Mormonism a great social movement. And on top of that, Dr. Hoxie suggested that I might get a scholarship and a small stipend to help pay my expenses. That was next to a revelation from heaven. I hurried home and told my wife.
Edna was happy and excited. She was ready to go home before I could finish. The opportunity to research Mormon community life was important but not so important as going home for ten weeks. The scholarship and stipend were made available, and we took the train home with our friend Leroy E. Cowles and Miss Pearl Craigon of Ogden.
In Farmington we stayed a short time at the Clark home. While Edna remained with her folks, I went into the field to interview the early pioneers who were then living but every month becoming fewer and fewer. I [p.51] visited Utah County first, then Salt Lake and Cache in Utah, and Franklin in southern Idaho.9
In Springville I interviewed a Mr. Gardner, a man of wide experience in early agriculture and industry. I also found people at Spanish Fork who were informed and generously helpful. At Provo I had a lengthy interview with a Mrs. Bullock who was among the very first to settle there. She had lived a long time in a covered wagon. In fact, she gave birth to a child when living on wheels. There were others in Provo, including BYU president George H. Brimhall, from whom I obtained information on the cultural, industrial, and recreational activities of that community.10 Many of Provo’s older citizens recalled the movement of Salt Lake residents to Provo when Johnston’s army was about to invade Utah. Those were exciting days and these old folks recalled the events with a memory and emotion as if they had occurred the day before yesterday.
Franklin, Idaho, the first Mormon settlement in that state, celebrated the pioneering of that town while we were there. The residents talked [p.52] about the fight with the Indians, especially the Battle Creek event. Other than a few such events, the patterns of pioneering in these communities were similar.
My most successful research was in Salt Lake City, where there were many Mormons and non-Mormons who had participated in the bitter, controversial issues of early Utah. The early Deseret News, the Journal of Discourses, the Millennial Star, the biographies and journals of pioneer leaders, and Mormon and anti-Mormon pamphlets were available in the city public library, the church library,11 or the private library of Mr. Pearce. (The Pearce library, containing nearly everything on Mormonism, was later given or sold to the Harvard University.)
Edna was most helpful in collecting this material and writing it down in legible form. Most of my notes were neatly copied and carefully filed away with other collections in the George Thomas Library, thanks to the efforts of Edna and Dr. Angus Woodbury.
In Salt Lake we moved into a one-room apartment at the Maxwell home on about Fourth Avenue and First East. It was a humble little home, but it did not take much of a nest to satisfy two young lovers who, besides paying attention to each other, had a great job to do. This was one time when work, religion, and play were combined into one great enterprise. It was really fun. Together we worked and laughed. And let me tell you that in these old documents there were many laughable things. In those days people who wrote told the truth, the whole truth. We need not apologize for them. They were realistic as well as religious. Before we left Utah we shipped a box of early Mormon literature to the University of Chicago library.
[p.53] I had an interview with Horace H. Cummings, superintendent of the church school system.12 I had a double purpose in arranging for this interview—securing a position in the LDS educational system and sounding him out on the controversy between religion and science (philosophy, as I would have put it). It did not take long for him to make clear where he stood on the latter question. Superintendent Cummings was physically big but spiritually and intellectually rather small. It has been said that Kant’s mind was too big for his body. The superintendent’s mind was too small for a tall man. His was definitely a one-track mind, and his religious philosophy was Mormon theology and not much more.
[p.54] The conversation turned quickly to the BYU controversy. He told me of the difficulties that he and President George H. Brimhall were having with professors Ralph Chamberlin, William H. Chamberlin, Joseph Peterson, and Henry Peterson, who were resigning,13 and of his special concern in finding men of scholarly achievement and of faith to take their places. The facts about this disturbance I had known for some time, but I was much interested in his interpretation. It was about as I had expected. To Cummings the problem was very, very serious, for the faith of the church’s youth was involved. As to these men who lost their jobs, that was a minor matter. When I told him what I was doing to prepare myself as a teacher, he had some important advice to give. [p.55] Economics is essential, but philosophy is of doubtful value. The theology of the church is ample philosophy.
Two clear impressions were left in my mind as a result of that interview. I was made aware that the philosophy I was being taught at the University of Chicago was not the kind that was wanted by my church. Second, should I be given a position in the church school system, I would be in for trouble as were the Chamberlins and Petersons.
Yet it appeared to me that a man of Mr. Cummings’s type might not continue as head of the system and that the attitude of the church toward science and philosophy might change. As I recall, I did not feel particularly discouraged. I regarded church leaders as good men with whom I might reason. It was probably the teachings of William H. Chamberlin and my own youthful spirit that made me thus optimistic; or it may have been my faith in Mormonism as divine in origin and destiny.
My year in philosophy had certainly not destroyed my basic religious convictions. I was ready to give up some of the traditional beliefs about miracles that were not in accord with scientific principles and also the belief that there was only one true church. I continued to believe in the existence of God, that God was the embodiment of truth and moral goodness, that he loved human beings everywhere, and that sincere efforts to advance the truth and beautiful and just express God’s will. This was Chamberlin’s religious philosophy, and to me it was Mormonism at its best. Dr. Small had also said something that impressed me as sane, social, and profoundly religious: “The various churches represent a division of labor in which each has a function to perform in the advancement of the good life.” I did not tell Mr. Cummings this, for I was quite sure he would not understand. Mormonism I regarded as true and just but without exclusive claim on religious values. And this I still believe.
Superintendent Cummings’s assertion that our people welcome economics but have no need for philosophy was not to be ignored, for although [p.56] uninformed in philosophy, he was in a position to reflect the attitude of church leaders. Although diplomacy is not and never has been a major personal equipment of mine, I did upon that occasion practice the art. I had already made economics my minor with philosophy as my major, and that relation might easily be reversed. So I made the shift and Cummings did, indeed, occasion it. But I refuse to give him the credit. The decision to pursue both economics and philosophy was to my advantage. Economics brings philosophy down to earth, and philosophy lifts economics to moral significance. For more than four decades my theme song has been, “Economic Justice in American Democracy.” This will be the title of my last book, if the Lord permits me to live long enough to complete it.14
While I was planning my thesis and the course to be pursued at Chicago, Edna had been doing some planning of her own:
“Dearest, you know Avery15 is a teacher of home economics and would just love to study at the University of Chicago. How would it be to have her go back with us?”
“Well, just as you feel about it, sweetheart,” I replied.
[p.57] “Oh, no, not just as I feel about it. You remember what you said when we were about to leave for Milwaukee?”
“What did I say?”
“You said that on all decisions of importance we think it over together, mutually agree, and then act as if we were just one.”
“Well, well. You have a good memory.”
“And you recall just what I said?”
“How could I forget?”
“All right, then. Since in this family we are to have two heads, not just one, how shall we proceed?”
“Well, let’s talk about it.” “Okay. You talk first.”
She went on to tell me what a fine companion Avery was, how helpful she would be, and that she needed just such a trip and a university experience.
“Edna, you are most convincing. But we are still on our honeymoon.”
“We are, but Avery is so sensible. There is also Ruth, and she needs to associate with somebody like you, so intelligent and kind.”
“Now, wait. I have had courses in child psychology, but I have had no experience with little children. And besides, you know that little niece of yours has a will of her own.”
So we went over the whole matter most carefully. From Avery to Ruth, from Ruth to Avery, and back again we examined the factors and finally agreed to make the venture. Our own children owe a debt of gratitude to Ruth and Avery for the laboratory they provided.
In consequence of the amiable spirit that existed between the two sisters, our ten months together was happy and congenial. For the forty years I have been permitted to observe them, they have been not only sisters but friends and companions, mutually helpful and affectionate. They were separated when Avery moved to California but kept up a [p.58] regular and frequent correspondence. When Avery died a star went down. We were at her bedside when she passed away.
But we must go back to our Chicago days. Ruth and Ephraim were the problem children. Edna had the responsibility of making a model husband out of a boy who was simply not patterned that way. And she had to do this in the presence of a sister who knew how a gentleman should behave. Ruth’s father was without blemish, or if he had any Avery had not lived with him long enough to become aware of it. And their father, Hyrum D. Clark, had set the standard for all the in-laws. None of us could equal him, which is why the sons-in-law thought of organizing an “anti-Clark sisters defense league.” While Avery studied home economics, Edna took care of Ruth and kept us all well nourished and in good spirits.
I studied philosophy and consulted weekly with Professor Laughlin on my thesis. At first the intention was to confine myself to the economic phases of Mormonism. Professor Laughlin was willing that I do that, but we soon discovered that such an approach would be artificial. Mormonism must be studied as a unit. Edna copied and put in good form every line I wrote. From that time to the present she has checked and scrutinized everything I have published. It was no easy matter, in the early decades of the century, to treat Joseph Smith’s revelations and writings objectively. Loyal Saints resented any effort to present the personal experiences of their prophet in psychological terms or the conflicts and persecutions of their group in sociological terms. More sensitive still was any critical examination of the institutions to which they subscribed.
At the same time, our financial situation was becoming a pressing problem. Stanford, our first child, was about fed up with his small confinement and wanted to see the great outdoors. In July 1911 we would be not just two but three, and the forty dollars a month from Edward Swann was insufficient to meet our expenses. Upon recommendation of [p.59] the economics department, I applied for a $100 loan from an agency connected with the university. When I appeared before the loan committee, the only question was whether this young Mormon would use the money for religious propaganda. I assured them I would not. I obtained the loan.
As for a teaching post, Cummings and Brimhall both wrote encouraging letters but made no definite proposition. Not to be found wanting in training for the position they had in mind, I registered for a course in high school methods under Professor Judd and for a course in education under visiting professor Elliot. I also registered as a visitor under Professor Angel, head of the department of psychology. These were summer courses and non-technical.
Joseph Peterson had received his Ph.D. in psychology under Professor Angel. As a student, Peterson had made an excellent name for himself in that department and greatly admired Dr. Angel. So when I presented myself to Dr. Angel and told him my plans, he became inquisitive:
“Do you expect to go back to Utah and teach at the Brigham Young University?”
“Well,” said I, “I may, but I am not sure.”
His reaction was most embarrassing to me. “Dr. Joseph Peterson who taught there is a well-trained psychologist and a splendid gentleman, and yet he was fired from that school. It is not the school that I thought it was, and if you are going there to take his place, you are not the man I thought you were.”
What could I say? Would I go to Utah and accept a position in a system that did not want what I had to give, or should I find a job elsewhere that I did not really want? Edna wanted to go home as much as I did. We wanted a home there; we wanted our children educated in the religious atmosphere of our church, among our people. But there were [p.60] no positions open at the University of Utah or the Agricultural College. And a professed Mormon was not particularly welcome at institutions outside of Utah.
Early in the summer we met Miss Mamie Olerton of Beaver, Utah. She was a teacher at the Murdock Academy and had learned that her principal was resigning. Would I be interested? “Yes, but who was the man resigning and for what reason?”
“His name is Josiah Hickman, and he was asked to resign for two reasons. He believed in and practiced polygamy, and he was uncooperative with the board on matters of finance.”
“Well, well. Should I take the place of a man who, in my adolescent days, inspired me more than any other man?” I knew Professor Hickman when he was principal of the Oneida Stake Academy. At that time I admired a man who could both preach and fight. Hickman could do both, and everybody in Preston regarded him as a champion.16
“Yes, Brother Ericksen,” she went on, “but we don’t want a polygamist teaching our young people, do we?”
“I agree, Miss Olerton. We don’t. You may write and tell President Tolton of the Beaver Stake that I am interested.”
She did and I was hired—not on the recommendation of the superintendent of church schools but by a humble and courageous little teacher.[p.61]
1. Albion W. Small (1854-1926) was raised in New England, studied in Germany, and founded the sociology department at Chicago in 1892. “As the first person in the country to occupy a chair in this discipline, he played a major role in training the first generation of American-educated sociologists.” Prominent in the Social Gospel movement, Small was reform-minded and intensely concerned about social values and ethics (Ahlstrom, 797-98).
2. James Hayden Tuffs (1862-1942) was raised in New England, graduated from Yale Divinity School, taught philosophy at the University of Michigan, completed his Ph.D. in Germany, and joined the new University of Chicago faculty in 1892. He taught philosophy forty years at Chicago and served as department head for twenty-five.
3. Ericksen’s chronology of courses, and the number of semesters for each course, is somewhat confused in the original draft of his autobiography. I have rearranged that information to correspond roughly to his official university transcript in EFP:
Autumn 1908: Development of Modern Thought, 1; Philosophy of Kant, 1; Problems of Ethics, 1; Theory of Value, 1; Socialism, 1.
Winter 1909: Development of Modern Thought, 2; Philosophy of Kant, 2; Problems of Ethics, 2; Value, 2; Socialism, 2.
Spring 1909: Development of Thought, 3; Problems of Ethics, 3; Value, 3; Economic History of the U.S.; Theory and History of Banking.
Summer 1909: History of Political Economy; Trusts; Trade Unionism.
Autumn 1909: Evolution of Morality; Money and Practical Economics; Research in Labor Problems, 1.
Winter 1910: Class Struggle in Society; Research in Labor Problems, 2; Railway Transportation.
Spring 1910: Social and Political Philosophy; Taxation and Finance; Ethics of Sociology.
Summer 1910: Social Psychology (two terms); Problems of American Agriculture; Research in Labor Problems.
Fall 1910: No classes (researching Mormon economy in Utah).
Winter 1911: Distribution of Wealth; Corporation Finance; Economic Bibliography and Relation of State to Industry; Seminar, Political Economy.
Spring 1911: Introductory Psychology; Distribution of Wealth, 2; Seminar, Political Economy; Genetic Psychology.
Summer 1911: Educational Measurements; Psychology of High School Subjects; Theory of Value; Finance and Taxation.
Spring 1914: Psychology of Religion: Distribution of Wealth, 2; Seminar, Political Economy; Race Development of Mind.
Summer 1914: The Crowd and the Public (two terms).
Fall 1918: Coursework unknown.
4. Utah law students included Jesse Rich (1883-1963), who would become a Preston attorney and Logan City judge (1929-62); Leon Fonnesbeck, who would become a USAC representative (opposing Ericksen as a University of Utah representative) on the 1941-42 governor’s task force studying the feasibility of consolidating the administration of the two schools; David S. Cook, Alma’s BYC debate partner; Edwin S. Sheets, bishop of the Liberty Stake 31st ward (1908-10); and Albert E. Bowen (1907-11), BYC professor and future LDS Sunday School General Board member (1922-34), YMMIA superintendent (1935-37), and apostle (1937-53). Also attending were Ephraim’s good friend, LeRoy Cowles (1909-10), who would become dean of education and president of the University of Utah (1941-46); Frank and Nettie Daines; and the Harvey Fletchers. Fletcher (1884-1981) graduated from BYU (1907); Ph.D., University of Chicago (1911); head of physics department, BYU (1911-16); researcher (1916-33), director of physical research (1933-49), Bell Laboratories; founded Columbia department of accoustical engineering (1949-52); director of research and dean of physical and engineering sciences, BYU (1953-58); and pioneered stereo sound (1933), sound in motion pictures, television, hearing aids, and transistors.
Organized in Chicago in 1905, the militant IWW demanded a redistribution of American wealth. Its members were miners, farmers, and factory workers. They engaged in violent strikes and sabotage and called for general strikes to overthrow capitalism. Employers, police, and the general public were so fearful of the IWW that ruthless methods were often used to put it down. In 1918 many IWW members were charged with conspiracy and jailed for refusing to cooperate with the war effort. IWW leader “Big Bill” Haywood fled to Russia in 1921.
7. Heber J. Sears (1861-1942), born in England, emigrated to Utah in 1864; LDS missionary, New Zealand; president, Farr & Sears Company, Ogden; student, Bush Medical College (1892-94); M.D., University of Illinois (1906); owner, Crown Dental Lab, Chicago (1902-19); professor and department head, hygiene and preventative medicine, University of Utah (1919-25). In Salt Lake City, Sears attended the University Ward, where Ericksen taught the high priests group.
8. The two-room apartment was locatcd at 5616 Drexel Avenue. Harvey Fletcher and his wife lived across the hall with their baby girl. Fletcher, who was then experimenting on the physics of sound waves, tried in vain to teach Ephraim to carry a tune (ECE, 1980 interview, 31).
9. Ephraim wrote Edna on 1 December that he was about finished with his work in Ogden; that President Lewis W. Shurtliff “gave me perhaps more information than any other man.” On 2 December Ericksen visited Harrisville and interviewed “an old Bro. Taylor who has 515 direct descendants. He was Pres Young’s body guard when he colonized Northern Utah and Southern Idaho.” On the 6th he wrote, “I feel that I have done very well at Brigham City, much better than at any other place. But I must leave tomorrow for Hyrum. There are a number of communities that I must yet visit.” Two days later he wrote from Hyrum, “I telephoned yesterday to A. Winter regarding [a loan application to the Church Board of Education]. He replied that the board had agreed to make me a loan of $200 but had not written me since he had not my address. [Superintendent of church schools Horace H.] Cummings had not given it to him.”
10. Brimhall gave Ericksen a letter of introduction dated 15 November 1910: “It is my pleasure to recommend to the favorable consideration of the public E. E. Ericksen. He is a Utah raised boy, having finished his education as far as home institutions would provide, went East to the University of Chicago and he is now working on his Doctor’s Degree Thesis, the subject of which is ‘Church and Community Enterprises Among the Mormons.’ I feel safe in saying that any information given to him to aid in this work will be treated with strict educational honesty and used in the interest of truth.” Horace H. Cummings, added, “I can cheerfully endorse the above statements,” and signed the letter (EFP).
11. Edna recalled, “People at church headquarters were so good to us. They saw that we had access to everything the church had, including an awful lot of the private diaries of leaders of the church. It was in some of those diaries that I got some of the shocks of my life. I was quite surprised. It was fascinating” (1980 interview, 32).
12. Horace Hall Cummings (1858-1937), student, University of Chicago, Columbia; graduate, University of Utah (1895); teacher, public schools six years, church schools five years; professor, University of Utah eleven years; called to the LDS Sunday School General Board (1901); superintendent of church schools (1906-19).
The interview described above appears to be a conflation of two or three exchanges between Ericksen and Cummings beginning as early as fall 1909 and concluding as late as spring 1911. The chronology of the unedited version is confused. Following Ericksen’s discussion of his first year at Chicago (1908-09) and student social life, he attributes his Murdock Academy and University of Utah appointments to “contacts that I made with Utah people at Chicago.” He then makes the ambiguous transition, “But here I want to relate briefly an interview which I had with Horis H. Cummings, superintendent of the Church School System at that time.” Ericksen states that his change from philosophy to economics was due to the interview, which suggests at least one contact with Cummings prior to his 4 February 1910 letter to Edna: “You know Dear, that Political Economy is what I stand for now. I am interested in Philosophy and am taking some studies there but Economics is my major subject.”
Ericksen wanted to secure a teaching position and to learn Cummings’s attitude regarding the BYU evolution controversy–which did not begin to heat up until fall 1910, about the time the Ericksens began to research Mormon economics in Utah. That Ericksen and Cummings met during the last two weeks of November is suggested by the fact that Cummings endorsed George H. Brimhall’s 15 November letter of introduction for Ericksen, and Cummings was to notify the Church Board of Education of Ericksen’s whereabouts so they could reach him when action was taken on his loan application on 2 December (see fns 9 and 10 above). Coincidentally, it was at the 2 December meeting that Cummings made his first report critical of the BYU faculty (Board of Education Minutes). Perhaps Ericksen “did not feel particularly discouraged” with his interview because the board had not yet become involved. Formal charges were not brought against the professors until February 1911.
That Cummings was looking for replacements for the BYU professors, and Ericksen looking for a job, suggests yet another exchange between the two in the spring.
13. The controversy over the teaching of evolution and modern biblical studies at BYU came to a head in February 1911, with Superintendent Cummings leading the anti-evolutionist forces. Faced with an ultimatum from the Church Board of Education to modify his teachings or be dismissed, Joseph Peterson resigned. Henry Peterson, in the College of Education, was dismissed in March.
On 25 March, Brimhall wrote Ericksen,
What are your views in regard to the following policies? The school must follow the Church in its policies and in its curriculum. Every teacher in the school will labor under the motto, “Everything for and nothing against (a) the Church, (b) the school.”
While the Church does not presume to decide scientific questions it does claim the right to decide as to what of science, or of anything else is suited to the schools under its creation, and its direction. Teachers will be given the utmost freedom in regard to method; but subject matter and professional attitude will be matters of observation, counsel, and if need be, direction.
Ralph V. Chamberlin, head of the biology department, resigned in June; his brother, William, who taught philosophy, psychology, and languages, resigned in 1916.
Joseph Peterson became head of the psychology department at the University of Utah, only to resign in protest of church influence there in 1915. He then went to the University of Minnesota and George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1934, he served as president of the American Psychological Association and died the following year.
Following his dismissal at BYU, Henry Peterson taught in Box Elder County schools and later at the Utah State Agricultural College. Ralph Chamberlin moved on to the University of Utah and Harvard. William, according to his brother, was blackballed by Cummings and was unable to find a full-time teaching position in Utah until Cummings was replaced in 1919. He taught extension division classes at the University of Utah (1917-20) and finally was hired at the BYC for 1920-21, shortly before his death (Bergera and Priddis, 131-48; Chamberlin, 54, 114-17, 137, 264-65; Wilkinson, 1:403-32).
15. Eliza Avery Clark (1882-1953) was Edna’s oldest sister. In 1900 she became the second wife of Apostle Abraham Owen Woodruff and moved to Juarez, Mexico, where she taught domestic arts in the stake academy. She lived in the homes of Anthony W. Ivins and then Roxie and Rhoda Taylor, while her house was being built across the street. Her daughter Ruth was born in May 1904, a few weeks before Woodruff’s death. In 1905 Avery and Ruth moved to Salt Lake City, where they lived with Owen’s mother and the four children of his first wife, Helen. In 1906, warned by George Albert Smith of a possible court subpoena, Avery and Ruth fled to Star Valley, where Ruth received an invitation from Andrew Kimball to teach in the academy at Thatcher, Arizona. In 1907 she returned to Star Valley to care for her pregnant mother, and in 1908 lived in Logan with her father’s second wife, Mary, while attending the BYC. In April 1909 Mother Woodruff requested her to move back to Salt Lake and take care of Owen’s children. In 1914 she married widower George Lambert, Jr. Avery and Ruth moved with George and his four children to San Francisco in 1927 (Lambert).
16. Josiah Hickman had served as principal of Murdock from 1907 to 1911. Alma Ericksen cited him as second only to their mother in encouraging Ephraim and him to gain a higher education. He “seemed to inspire every person with whom he came in contact to get an education, and a big one. No public speaker that I have ever heard has inspired as much as he did, and I am sure the same thing was true of Ephraim” (Alma Ericksen, “Aunt Sophia,” 24-25)